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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Matrix of Control

I desire something sweet. Chocolate ideally. Nice bar of Crunky. I look around the house. The three bars of chocolate that I had to hide from myself in the cupboard are gone - they were bought yesterday for a cake that was made today, a cake that was then taken away to a house elsewhere in Japan. Quite a remarkable cake actually: the ingredients? Chocolate, and eggs. Nothing more. Baked in a saucepan.

Nothing sweet in the kitchen. I finished the honey. It's served me well. I first bought it when living in Ogikubo, the only toast-topping that wouldn't go mouldy in my room. I rummage around under the sink. I've already had two bananas today, shouldn't have a third. Then I spot the tetra pack. I didn't know what it contained when I obtained it, but learnt the kanji for "Plum" last night (the tree that provides every day), thus I now understand it contains Plum Wine - Umeshu. Not my favourite at all, I prefer warm sake, but I've broken the seal now and poured myself a mini-goblet-full (bless you John John for that particular piece of house-furniture.)

Another fascinating day at university. I have heard some horror stories of what some of my classmates at other institutes are going through and thank my lucky stars. They say that at Hiroshima uni they have only just covered the 'te' form, and that's in the second-from highest group! Keio and ICU do not appeal either - as my friend said, the International Department at Keio University is only examined once every ten years, it's no wonder they have such shoddy teaching methods. And this, one of the top two Tokyo universities!

Take the red pill. Show them a world without rules and controls.

It was last week that I started to cross the main road when the lights are still red. It's the control again, something which most of them are unaware. I'm not doing it to deliberately antagonize Japanese people. Nor am I doing it in order to get run over (the sequence in which the lights change on that long, straight dual-carriageway provide an ample window for crossing even when the lights are red). No, I am doing it in defiance of the system, the system of control that extends beyond the borders of Japan, the system that engulfs all civilised societies. I get positive delight in not walking in the pavement on my way to uni. The speed most of those students walk you'd think university was to be their final resting place.

There will be no revolution however, for the simple reason that the system works. The effect is so complete that the Neo's and Truman's of this society can't even have their 'consciences' pricked.

To refrain from imitation is the best revenge.

The (British) Tea Ceremony talk went well, despite my bumbled attempt at giving a definition of "Jumping Ship" earlier in the class. Humour was once again my key to success, success being defined as only semi-wishing I was halfway between a broken 5th-floor window and the ground below. Had a great debate in our society and culture lecture about robotic girlfriends. Jordan, a stereotypically loud (yet very nice and friendly) American student was adamant that this computerised doll, which had a conversation memory bank covering 30,000 topics, was a truly horrendous idea, and no-one would dream of purchasing one. I played devil's advocate, arguing that such a doll differed in no way from any other girl: just like it's human counterpart it would respond appropriately to pretty much whatever you said to it, it would, no doubt, have a personality that matured through interaction with its owner, and so on. After all, isn't a human brain just a super-computer without the solder? He was having none of it though. At the end of the lesson he asked our lecturer where she had seen the article that she had cited - he said he wanted to know more.
Ha! When you don't show up for class next week we'll all know why - too busy exploring 30,000 different topics with your bosom buddy, Mandy the Cybourg!
We all laughed. It was a good end to a long day.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Jen said...

I cross the road half of the time when the lights are on red here, after spending a few weeks trying to force myself to be patient and wait all of the time. I was very amused the other day when me and some of my friends were walking another one of our friends home at 3/4ish in the morning, and the lights were on red, but with no cars at all around, so I crossed. Immediately all of my friends shouted "Abunai!!!!!!!!" and looked really worried, hehe. Bless.

The slow walking thing as well, bahhhhh, so very irritating. My walk to University takes about 10 minutes in total, with 5 of them leading up to the campus, and then the other 5 me trying to get across the campus to the building which I'm normally in, which is ooh about 100 metres from the entrance. I can't see why everyone has to walk so slowly! The sheer volume of students means that you either have to walk at their pace or just appear to be ridiculously rude and push past everyone.

I do find it interesting though that this idea of having to be super polite all of the time seems to just fly out of the window when it comes to getting on trains, quite a few times I've been on a very crowded train and people have barged their way on, elbowing people in the face and pushing over anybody not strong enough to withstand the assault. And yet, as soon as the doors closed everything returns to the super polite normal state. Weird.

This country confuses me greatly.

22/11/06 17:31  

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